New GOP ad falsely claims climate change plan will result in 'hurricane tax' for Texans

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A new American Action Network ad invokes climate-fueled storms while calling a bill that addresses them a 'socialist wish list.'

A new ad from a right-wing dark money group invokes the names of three recent hurricanes that caused massive flooding in and around Houston, Texas. At the same time, it urges viewers to oppose President Joe Biden's $3.5 trillion investment plan to address the climate change that is fueling storms like these.

The ad, posted online Wednesday by the American Action Network, is aimed at constituents of Rep. Lizzie Fletcher (D-TX), whose competitive 7th Congressional District includes parts of Houston and its suburbs.

The ad features a narrator speaking over storm images. "Rita. Ike. Harvey. Names that haunt Houston. All leading to high insurance premiums that continue to rise.

"Now, liberals in Washington want to spend $3 trillion on a socialist wish list, funded by taxes that could make it even more expensive to insure your home. You'd pay more to protect your home so they can fund their socialist pet protects. Call Lizzie Fletcher. Tell her to vote against the hurricane tax."

The three hurricanes each caused significant damage to the Greater Houston area over the past 15 years. Experts say they were worsened by climate change and that global warming will make future storms like those more intense and more frequent.

"Communities all along the Gulf Coast need to adapt to a world where the heaviest rains are more than we have ever seen," Pennsylvania State University meteorologist David W. Titley told the New York Times in 2017 following Hurricane Harvey. He noted that "while a storm of Harvey's strength is still rare, it's not as rare as it once was."

The American Action Network, founded in 2010 and chaired by former Republican Sen. Norm Coleman of Minnesota, is a dark-money 501(c)(4) tax-exempt group that has spent millions of dollars attacking Democrats and supporting Republican candidates. It opposes environmental regulations and promotes unfettered continued use of fossil fuels.

The group opposes Biden's Build Back Better agenda, which would roll back some of the tax cuts that the richest Americans and corporations received under then-President Donald Trump's 2017 Tax Cut and Jobs Act and invest billions of dollars in climate change, clean energy, and caregiving infrastructure.

The so-called "socialist pet protects" in the plan include funds to "create good-paying, union jobs, establish an energy efficiency and clean energy standard, expand and extend clean energy and electric vehicle tax credits, and enlist a new Civilian Climate Corps" to address climate change immediately, along with financing and tax cuts to lower housing costs and "bolster affordable and resilient housing, supporting the construction or rehabilitation of more than two million homes."

In small print at the bottom of the screen, the American Action Network ad sources its claims of a "hurricane tax" to conservatives who oppose the bill's proposed corporate tax hikes. Their argument is that if Congress raises the tax rates for corporations, insurance companies would then simply pass on those costs to homeowners by raising their premiums.

But even if that is true, their analyses do not take into account another major provision in the legislation: tax cuts for middle- and lower-income Americans. Congress' nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation predicted last week that Biden's plan would cut federal taxes overall for every group earning $200,000 a year or less. Those earning $1 million or more would see a tax increase of about 10.6%.

Biden warned on Sept. 7, after Hurricane Ida caused dozens of deaths, that without major investment things would be even more dire in the future. "Climate change poses an existential threat to our lives, to our economy," he said. "And the threat is here; it's not going to get any better. The question: Can it get worse?  We can stop it from getting worse."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.